By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal standing in front a this match that could define the first season under Emery as a success or as more of the same as the season before.
Team at the start: Cech, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Torreira, Kolasinac, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
On the beach : Leno, Mustafi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Nketiah.
After a bit of a cagey start from both teams Valencia win a corner but it is completely spilled. Both teams not really fluent on the ball in the opening minutes but Valencia with more attacking moments than Arsenal. A moment we have two balls on the pitch in the Arsenal penalty area but as Cech can pick up the correct ball the ref let play continue. A first shot from Arsenal from Maitland-Niles leaves a gap at our right flank and Valencia counter and the ball falls kindly for a Gameiro who slides it in the Arsenal goal. 1-0 for Valencia after 11 minutes. Almost a copy of the first match….
Valencia have another goal bound shot but it hits another Valencia player. Still 1-0 after 15 minutes with hardly any Arsenal attacks.
A shot from distance goes a meter wide from Valencia. But a high ball goes to Lacazette who heads it in to the path of Aubameyang who has a shot from just outside the penalty area and beats the keeper. GOAL! 1-1 after 17 minutes. This could prove to be a very important goal.
Valencia looking a bit shocked after that goal and losing their momentum a bit. They looked in control till that Arsenal goal. A shot goes over from Valencia after a first real better attack. An Arsenal corner finds Aubameyang but his header goes well over. Valencia respond with a shot from distance but it goes meters wide. Coquelin lands bad after an aerial duel and goes through his back and needs treatment. The score is still 1-1 after 30 minutes.
Coquelin comes back on. Aubameyang with a left foot shot after a good spell from Arsenal but too close to the keeper. A free kick from Valencia jut outside the Arsenal penalty area goes half a meter wide. A tackle from behind from Garay on Lacazette earns him a yellow card. Aubameyang with a great run on the right flank and he picks out Lacazette whose shot hits the outside of the post. Unlucky. The keeper was beaten. Gaya from Valencia tries to dive for a penalty but the ref saw it and gave him a yellow card for his effort. 2 minutes of extra time are indicated. Arsenal manage to keep the ball for most of that time. After 45 minutes the score in this match is 1-1. Aggregate score 4-2 in favour of Arsenal. Valencia need to score 2 more goals to get the match to extra time and 3 goals to win in total.
A first attack from Valencia after the break but the shot hits Coquelin and goes out for a goal kick. Aubameyang in some space but his shot is deflected for a corner. Aubameyang win the ball around the half way line, he goes past his man but only half. The ball falls to Torreira who gives it to Lacazette who twists and turns and shoots in the far corner. GOAL!! 1-2 after 50 minutes! Arsenal lead 5-2 on aggregate.
A nasty kick on Sokratis from a Valencia striker is not punished with a yellow card. I think the ref was standing too far away from it to see the kick. Gabriel uses his arm against Lacazette and is lucky to also not to get a yellow card.
Valencia then score in a strange way. A shot is deflected and hits Gameiro who pushed it over the line. 2-2 after 58 minutes.
Monreal gets a knock when defending but he can continue. After 61 minutes Özil goes off and Mkhitaryan comes on. A shot from distance from Valencia flies half a meter wide. Valencia trying to score another goal and Arsenal having to defend. Maitland-Niles gets a long ball from Xhaka, he goes past his man and his low cross is put over the line by Aubameyang. GOAL!!! 2-3 to The Arsenal! after 70 minutes.
Kolasinac goes off after having some cramps and Mustafi comes on after that goal. Monreal moves up to the left flank now. Sokratis with a good clearance on what could have been a dangerous cross from Valencia. Arsenal still 2-3 in front after 75 minutes.
Valencia try to do something about the score but the heads seem to have gone down after that 3rd goal. After 78 minutes Guendouzi comes on in the place of Torreira. The match is very much dead it seems with Valencia trying but not with all their heart anymore. A few shots from distance that go wide. Mkhitaryan with a steal but his cross to Aubameyang is just cleared for a corner. A bit of frustration from Valencia with a cynical foul on Aubameyang. A pass from Aubameyang just can’t find Lacazette. Arsenal now dominating in the last 5 minutes of normal time.
A wonderful combination starting with a ball from Guendouzi to Aubameyang who lets it run to Mkhitaryan who gives it back and Auba fires it in with a powerful shot. GOAL!!!! 2-4 to The Arsenal after 89 minutes. Some handbags at the end of the match with Valencia players having it hard to swallow this defeat
With the match tied 1-1 at Chelsea they might go to extra time over there so we don’t know who we might play in Baku at the end of the month.
A difficult start but the duo Aubameyang and Lacazette completely destroyed Valencia.
The season isn’t over yet!